Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/30/2000
Publication Date: 11/1/2000
Citation: BERRANG, M.E., DICKENS, J.A., MUSGROVE, M.T. EFFECTS OF HOT WATER APPLICATION AFTER DEFEATHERING ON LEVELS OF CAMPYLOBACTER COLIFORMS AND ESCHERICHIA COLI ON BROILER CARCASSES. JOURNAL OF POULTRY SCIENCE. 2000. V. 79. P. 1689-1693. Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is a bacteria that can make humans very sick and has been associated with poultry meat. In the course of processing, chicken carcasses are dipped into hot water (scalded) to loosen the feathers which are then removed in a series of machines with rubber picker "fingers". The scald step lowers the number of Campylobacter cells found on carcasses, however the defeathering process leads to an increase in the number of Campylobacter cells. A second application of hot water immediately following defeathering was tested to find if the numbers of Campylobacter could be lowered again. Hot water treatments were tested by immersing the carcasses and by spraying the carcasses. Neither treatment significantly reduced the numbers of Campylobacter cells recovered from the chicken carcasses. This suggests that use of hot water following defeathering picking is not a practical means of lowering the level of Campylobacter. Therefore, researchers must continue to study this problem and test other possible techniques to improve the safety of poultry products.
Technical Abstract: Scalding has been found to lower the levels of Campylobacter on broiler carcasses. However, the numbers recovered from whole carcass rinse samples increase following defeathering. This study was undertaken to examine the effect of a second scald applied after defeathering on microbial levels recovered from carcass rinses. Four treatments were evaluated, 1) immersion at 60 C for 28 s 30 min after defeathering, 2) immersion at 60 C for 28 s immediately after defeathering, 3) spray at 73 C for 20 s 30 min after defeathering, and 4) spray at 71 C for 20 s immediately after defeathering. As reported earlier, an increase in Campylobacter counts from of 1 to 2 log10 cfu/ml whole carcass rinse was noted after carcasses were defeathered. However, when applied 30 min after defeathering, neither the immersion nor spray second scald treatments lowered the Campylobacter counts. Likewise, neither treatment had any affect on E. coli or coliform counts even though total counts were slightly reduced by the treatments. When the second scald treatment immediately followed defeathering the same trends were observed. Campylobacter counts after the second scald remained at the post-pick levels as did counts for Escherichia coli and coliforms, but total plate counts were slightly reduced. Overall, it would appear that a post-scald treatment, gentle enough to not alter the carcass appearance or meat quality, would not effectively lower Campylobacter, E. coli, or coliform counts.